ASPASTES, Greek form of an Old Persian name *Aspasta-, also attested in Elamite as Áš-ba-iš-da. The etymology of the name is uncertain, but it is probably related to aspasta (New Persian aspest) “clover, alfalfa” (W. Hinz, Altiranisches Sprachgut der Nebenüberlieferungen, Wiesbaden, 1975, p. 43 with literature). The name was borne by 1. An official under Darius the Great, active in Persepolis in ca. 500 B.C. (R. Hallock, Persepolis Fortification Tablets, Chicago, 1969, p. 670). 2. A satrap of Carmania under Darius III, reinstated by Alexander upon the latter’s taking of Persis in 330 B.C. (Q. Curtius 9.10.21, 29; some MSS have Astaspes—elsewhere attested as an Old Iranian name *Aštāspa “having eight-horse [chariot]”, e.g., in Aeschylus, Persae, v. 22, cf. Justi, Namenbuch, p. 47—but the spelling Aspastes seems more authentic, see Justi, ibid., p. 46). While Alexander was in the Indus Valley, Aspastes attempted to rise against him but did not succeed. When the Macedonian returned via Gedrosia, Aspastes came to meet him. Alexander at first dissembled his anger and treated the satrap kindly, but when his position became secure, he put Aspastes to death (Curtius, loc. cit.).
H. Berve, Das Alexanderreich auf prosopographischer Grundlage II, Munich, 1935, no. 173 [given under Astaspes].
(A. Sh. Shahbazi)
Originally Published: December 15, 1987
Last Updated: August 17, 2011
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